Help! I’m Stuck in a Tsunami Blonde Joke

Oh, No, Not Again!

March and April found us back again, sitting shocked, amazed, spellbound, and powerless in front of our TV screens – watching as hundreds of thousands flee their homes and the steaming nuclear reactors.b

Dumbfounded we stared, as crews carried out the Hail Mary procedure of squirting sea water on the nuclear core to try to slow its progress towards a meltdown and the potential contamination of millions of locals, not to the billions across the ocean those of us across the ocean. Then the terrible stories of those who lost everything nightly across our TV screens.

And here I am, having that eerie feeling, hearing that spooky voice that keeps repeating, “It’s happening again, its happening again . . .”

The Art of Helplessly Looking On

Back in September of 2001 we all were glued to our television sets impotently watching the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers burn and collapse to the ground and New Yorkers running from a giant ball of debris growing as it overtook lower Manhattan.

It wasn’t long afterward that we watched as corruption and greed led to the demise of Enron, Arthur Anderson, Countrywide, Jack Abramoff, AIG, and so on – the predictable result of behaviors that were not only dishonest, but criminal. But what could we do?

Then we looked on helplessly as the stock market plummeted toward the abyss created by credit default swaps, ushering in the near total collapse of the global credit markets, and following close on its heels, the boggle boggling multibazillion dollar bailouts and the pain of the so-called “Recession of 2008.”

And here we are now, well into 2011, feeling that feeling of despair as we tune in to the news of millions of hard-working Americans having lost their jobs and homes to the recession. And again we felt helpless. Here’s an interesting little video – Bill Moyers’ take on how all that went down: The epidemic fraud in the Economic Meltdown Video .

Well, we made it through the Almost A Nuclear Meltdown scare, but folks in my neck of the woods are pretty freaked about the radioactive particles wafting our way. What’s next?

Stuck In a Dumb Blonde Joke

Somehow I have the feeling I am stuck in one of those “dumb blonde” jokes:

The Wager

Bob walks into a sports bar around 9:58 pm. He sits down next to a blonde at the bar staring up at the TV. The 10 pm news comes on, and the news crew covering the story of a man on the ledge of a large building preparing to jump.

The blonde looks at Bob and says, “Do you think he’ll jump?”

Bob says, “You know, I bet he’ll jump.”

The blonde replies, “Well, I bet he won’t.”

Bob places a $20 bill on the bar and says, “You’re on!”

Then, just as the blonde places her money on the bar, the guy on the ledge does a swan dive off the building, falling to his death. The blonde is very upset, but willingly hands her $20 to Bob, saying, “Fair’s fair. Here’s your money.”

Bob replies sheepishly, “I have to confess, I cheated. I saw this earlier on the 5 pm news, and so I knew he would jump.”

The blonde replies, “I did too, but didn’t think he’d do it again.”

Bob took the money…

click image for more blond jokes!

Blonde Like Me

How like that blonde we are – being surprised to see the same thing happening again and again, but unable to see that all these shocking events are really the result of a single underlying process at work in our global culture. I believe that until we really confront the real issues and begin to think systemically and examine the root patterns at work here, we are likely to continue to see this parade of tragedies. .

I don’t know what is coming next, but it’s bound to be a doozy. Hang on to your seats, folks!

The Cure for Blondeness

Fortunately this kind of blondeness is curable.

To me, the recent events in the Middle East demonstrate the power we can all have over our lives. I believe technology is a key part of using that power. As we learn to communicate better, the we awaken the intelligence and wisdom we need to free ourselves. We are entering the era of global community now, where time never sleeps and unfathomable amounts of information are at our fingertips.

The time for collaboration around Things That Matter has come. Connecting in a meaningful way with others is best in person. Second best, the information highway is running an ever-closer second. The internet provides an excellent medium for making meaningful connections, and a number of people and organizations have created some excellent centers for connecting and collaborating. I will suggest a few that I think might well help you shift to a mode of thinking that can enable a deeper understanding of what’s going on and offer some very reasonable actions you can take to help change this.

The change we want can come amazingly quickly. As our communication technologies mature, I can see the same vision as Clay Shirky,( consultant, teacher, and writer on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies), alludes to in this fascinating video – why we are on the brink of change, if we will recognize and use it.

The recent peaceful revolts in Tunisia and Egypt demonstrate how effectively cell phones, Facebook, and Twitter can empower even people who live in these relatively deprived and primitive conditions.

I believe there are enough of us who want to change and that we already possess the collective intelligence and wisdom that can set us free. All that is necessary is for us to begin to play our part in the conversation . . . What are we waiting for?

Steps for Recovering Blondes

Below are a few suggestions for getting started. When you arrive at these links, I recommend you read what is online then, and also that  strongly recommend that you actually SUBSCRIBE. These are living sites and subscribing will insure that you will receive future postings. Or you may click RSS ; it will be uploaded to your RSS readers.

Tom Atlee’s Cointelligence Newsletter addresses the fascinating concepts and practices of Collective Intelligence and is a great place to start.

The World Café offers guidance , materials, and online support for free on how to create conversations that matter to your neighborhood, family, and/or workplace. Here’s one of my conversations with Juanita Brown , the co-creator of The World Café, and here is a video I’ve put together about the World Café .

Alan Briskin’s provocative and intelligent book, Collective Wisdom , introduces his readers to that special kind of knowledge and insight that is available only through group and community interaction.

The Collective Wisdom Initiative website was created to help broadcast the emerging field of collective wisdom, its study and practice. It came into being in 2002 with support from the Fetzer Institute .

And here’s a clever little animation Rebel Girl and The Vagina Report , showing the power of collective action.

And, of course, if you are subscribed to my eNewsletter, “ Healing Times ,” or click RSS in my blog site, I will do my best to send you updates. And I invite you to contribute, and to pass this site along to your friends.

The splitting of the atom has changed everything save our mode of thinking and thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe .” – Albert Einstein

” If you only knew . . .” – Emmett Miller

Election Report from Under the Bus with Obama

I, probably just like you, asked myself “Why did Obama lose all that support in the recent election?” The response was a curious one indeed – it came in the form of a little history lesson.

During the Second World War, when open racial segregation was the rule, battalions of African-American men were sent into combat in some of the most hellish battles in Europe – often those where unacceptably high casualties were expected. They performed admirably, often turning in startling victories.

But, even if you were alive at that time you probably never knew this: as soon as the battle had been won and it was safe, the army brass quickly shipped out the blacks under cover of night, and white troops were shipped in, so that when the reporters and newsreel cameras arrived, they were greeted by the tanks and trucks filled the apparently victorious white faces and freshly dirtied uniforms. And this was not the exception; it was the rule. That was then.

Today’s War
Now the battle is at home, where our country (and the world) has suffered great damage in the wake of a financial crisis that had its very clear roots in the greed, dishonesty and manipulation – in the immense Ponzi scheme that was our economy. It was like a big game of economic musical chairs: you have to risk investment or watch inflation eat your hard-earned retirement capital and everyone knew that it made sense to take out a mortgage on a house – the equity always increases (after all – they are not making any more land!). Then, suddenly, the music stops and you don’t have a chair to sit in, and you are not alone. In fact, there are millions of others who suddenly discovered they had no chair, no job, and no homes.

So here we were, faced with a rapidly collapsing economy, job losses of nearly a million a month, a credit crisis of a degree not seen since 1930, and on the verge of having a nation-wide runs on the banks. To let this continue was definitely a no-win scenario. Essentially every responsible economist counseled the necessity of bailing out the economy to forestall unthinkable disaster – and yet the only way to do this was to take out a big mortgage on the future. Who would want to be responsible?

The deal offered was “No questions asked, just give us the money and we’ll take care of everything and you’re not allowed to sue us or hold us responsible for anything!” We didn’t do exactly that, but we were pretty much forced to do something not too far away from it.
And this was only the first shoe to fall, and we were living underneath a boot-wearing octopus. One after another, the dominoes toppled – bankers voted themselves huge bonuses, credit became unavailable, unemployment insurance had to be extended, the housing market went into a coma . . . the great Colossus became a moribund nation in a moribund planet needing injections of stimulus capital.

Where the Buck Stops
Yes, it was a crisis, one of the biggest battles we’ve ever faced. There was a lot that needed to be done – and it needed to be done quickly. We needed a leader who could act decisively – there was no time for the nation to come to a consensus – or at least that’s what we were led to believe.

Into the breach stepped a new president, Barack Obama, who bravely threw himself into the fray, stemming the loss of jobs and shoring up the financial system. What a fine figure he cut, this young black man, riding in on celestial clouds of hope and change – the nation’s Great White Hope.

Private Ryan could not have more bravely and resolutely thrown himself on the grenade, protecting us from its blast, while blowing his re-election chances to smithereens.
Then, what’s that I hear? I hear a bugle blowing and lo, here comes a battalion of white faces riding in beneath “mad as hell” banners, ready to take credit for our continued existence. Meanwhile, the fellow whose courage may be the most important factor in our continued existence and the stabilized global economy is vilified as a Nazi Socialist Muslim – and who some actually believe to be the anti-Christ!

Why do I have the feeling I’ve seen this movie before?

Stages of American National Grief

Stages of American National Grief
The progression of stages of national grief is:

  1. Denial < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denial > – “The country is fine.”; “Signs of decline are overblown by unpatriotic people.”
  2. Denial is usually only a temporary defense but while it is operative it is filled with rhetoric like, “Let’s take our country back to the way it was” which is largely a mythological construct of something that never was – a Norman Rockwell view of nationhood.
  3. Anger < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anger > – “Why us? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to us?”; “We are the greatest nation ever.” “Who is to blame?”
  4. Once in the second stage, the citizen recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the nation is very difficult to care for, think clearly about or to make plans for its future due to feelings of rage. Looking for scapegoats becomes a preoccupation.
  5. Bargaining < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bargaining > – “I will do anything to bring back the memory of what is an ‘exceptional’ nation. “God has established it with a unique destiny and surely he won’t let it die.” “I will pray to the Almighty who founded this country to rescue it from those who are out to destroy it.”
  6. The third stage involves the hope that the demise of the national identity can somehow be postponed or delayed. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life of that which has been known is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed and ideological pure state. Psychologically, the individual is saying, “I understand that the nation as it has been constructed is dying, but if I could just have more time to live the way it was…”
  7. Depression < > – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “The nation as I know it is going to die… What’s the point?”; “I miss so much the American myths of a country that used to be, why go on?”
  8. During the fourth stage, the individual begins to understand the certainty of death of the national idea. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse to associate with others or read the paper or keep up with the news and spend much of the time grieving. This process allows the person to disconnect oneself from attachments and affection for the underlying myths of what s/he believed to be his or her homeland.
  9. Acceptance < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acceptance > – “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”
  10. In this last stage, the citizen begins to come to terms with the mortality of not the nation but the national idea as it has been and begins to think of how the nation might be if it was less absorbed with itself and its excessive individualistic mythology and more concerned with using its assets to fully serve by participating in an international, global understanding of its role. It is the beginning of creativity and new opportunity.

But for now, it seems, we are stuck between rage (TEA Partiers) and helplessness (Liberals)

thanks to Bruce Vincent for this clever bit

What is the matter with the people in this world? Why can’t they see the very obvious truth, that each of us has value, and that what we share in common with each other is so much greater in importance than the ways we happen to differ? With so many people pointing the way, why don’t they listen, and act accordingly?

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve had thoughts like those. Eventually it began to dawn on me – the world has been blinded by the propaganda advanced by their so-called leaders. As a result of this blindness we remain ignorant of truths lying right in front of us. [1]

Obama as Antichrist

The current domestic political situation is instructive. If there was ever a time to diligently search for solutions that will benefit us all, it is now. Who in their right mind would aim us in the direction of confusion and misinformation?

Yet there are a significant number of us who choose to believe that President Obama is a closet Muslim and a Nazi: that he wasn’t born in this country, and that he wants to pass a law mandating “death panels.” But this is just a single example of the nonsensical perspective that is nurtured by a certain segment of the media and then becomes a deep belief of all those who cannot see the distortion. But this is just one example.

Why would anyone aim to cultivate such fantasies and live by them?

Caution, Unseen Hand at Work

Perhaps Maynard Keynes’s “unseen hand” is at work here – the unseen hand of the marketplace. Fact is, there is money to be made by publishing information that distorts the world and creates suspicion, paranoia, fear, and conflict. The unseen hand caused to appear hungry, aggressive whose raison d’être is to specifically cater to those of us who are thus ignorant of the truth. After all, there is money to be made in the business of keeping people ignorant, and since “greed is good”. . .

We have not been taught to respect the truth, and the media generated distortion results in our never having an opportunity to even see the truth. We have been pumped full with propaganda and pap. (By the way, breaking with tradition, when I use the term media I mean to refer to all the communication tools and weapons aimed at us by the world we live in.) Our Information Universe is heavily impacted by media in many forms, ranging from our schoolbooks, with their stories of brave Columbus, and self-sacrificing Custer, all the way to today’s increasingly politically pitched news media.

This carefully manufactured blindness has resulted in our being ignorant of important facts because they are invisible to us.

Waking Up to the Media

I gradually began to recognize how deeply our culture has been twisted by our media. Our history books and prayer books, our newspapers and television have all systematically distorted the truth. Facts have been distorted and so has the mode of reasoning by which these factoids are examined and evaluated.

The problem is that not only has our global information system failed to give us the truth about ourselves and the world we live in, it has also not given us the tools we need in order to see the actual solutions that abound all around us. We desperately need to acquire and employ those tools that will enable us to be be certain that the decisions we are making are wise decisions.

To feel secure in the correctness and wisdom of our decisions we must examine the truth impartially, with freedom from prejudice, with an eye free from longing. We do not want our desire to see things a certain way to influence how we are seeing things. At least not too much. We need to strive to understand the truth, and to see more than merely projection of our prejudiced fantasy onto the current situation.

Any attachment to the past distorts our view of the present to some degree. It can be on other way – our present will always be colored to some degree by the past, at least until we have reached a stable state of enlightenment. Wisdom decrees that we reduce this distortion to the minimum, accept that some distortion remains, and then to take the transformational step of looking beyond the distortion. We must turn to a deeper intuition (the Force?), to enable us to sense what is deeper, and to set our journey by that deeper, inner standard, by the deeper essence of the situation, rather than just the situation itself.


[1] Sometimes we even go so far as to imprison those who would shed light on the world, as with the fate of poor Galileo, and those Joe McCarthy’s hearings abused.

Personal Responsibility and Leadership

We have voted in an historic election, and many are hoping that “happy days are here again,” as the government starts responding to our needs and requests. Well, with such observations as those of famed financier George Soros , it is beginning to look more and more as if our communities, businesses, practices, and families are going to find themselves even more “on their own.”

The “financial downturn” is looking more and more like our economic Katrina – and like the unfortunate victims of that storm, we cannot expect the government to step in and solve all the problems it is creating. After all, our state and federal governments are beyond flat busted, and the money they borrow or print is going to come out of our future earnings – which themselves are looking pretty shaky.

Perhaps there are important lessons we can learn from Katrina. One, of course, is that we cannot depend on the disaster-responsiveness of the government. Another comes to us by way of certain population groups in New Orleans that found ways to deal successfully with the challenges presented during in the aftermath of the hurricane. The tightly-knit French-American communities were able to organize a response; they quickly pulled together and pooled its resources, and looked for ways to support each other. How different from the “every man for himself” reaction that the news media brought us in such quantity.

Just as nations, banks, cities, and towns are going bankrupt , it is all but certain that there will be breakdowns at the level of our local communities. What will happen to your neighborhood and mine will then depend on the quality of the leadership available. And the time for the right kind of leadership is now, not after the levees break.

Because we are a democracy, our government is a reflection of the choices we are making. Thus, each one of us bears a certain responsibility, the responsibility to dedicate an appropriate portion of his or her time to seeing to it that the men and women that we allow to take leadership positions in our governments, businesses, and communities are truly leaders – leaders who really understand the true essence of this new paradigm. It is essential to our survival that we go beyond greenwashed temporary fixes. It is your job and mine to make sure that, instead of going for the “fast, fast, fast symptom relief” as offered by our TV commercials, our elected officials will look to the source of these recurring disasters, and treat the system at this deeper level. If we do not do this, we are not being responsible and playing our proper role in the new Distributed Leadership model that coordinates well with New Paradigm thinking.

The Distributed Leadership Meme
Those who understand the concept of Distributed Leadership and are skilled in its application are best equipped to design a new course of action – one that will reflect our shared interests and deeper unity. The goal is to move us toward (whether or not we ever reach it) an “omega point” of harmony and unitive thinking. This process will make available to us the enormous gifts of our collective intelligence and generate momentum toward wholeness and sustainability – survival and “thrival.”

We are now at a time in which we will experience an unprecedented opportunity to select new leadership in all walks of life – government, business, communities – right down to our individual families. It is clear to nearly everyone that it is time for a change, a change that will be reflected at every level of system, from the individual to the global. Our actual survival, and the sustainability of those aspects of our lives that we treasure most, will depend upon our choosing leaders, local and national, who really understand that if we do not learn from history, history will repeat itself – and each time the price goes up.

The Teachings of History
Consider the cost of the Cold War, the Arab Oil Embargo, the suicide bombing of September 11, and now the Financial Meltdown, whose costs are well into the trillions. And the significance of this amount pales in comparison to the human suffering attendant on those events. We are waking up, and none too soon, to the fact that, there is something deeply flawed about how we have organized the dominant institutions on our planet.

September 11 roused us temporarily from our fool’s paradise of “prosperity.” The 3,000 deaths that resulted from those terrorist attacks were tragic, yet no more tragic than the 3,000 babies that starve to death every day, or die from easily curable disease – or the tens of thousands kidnapped into sexual slavery, to die of AIDS after a decade of unthinkable torture. What was different was that these deaths were white Americans, not black or brown Africans or Asians. Suddenly the U.S. began to wake up to the fact that we could no longer believe ourselves as invulnerable as we had once thought. After all, to Americans, bombings had always been something that happened “over there” and that war was just our favorite way of learning geography.

And, after an all-too-brief moment of unity, we watched dumbfounded, as the sense of global oneness and shared tragedy that had New Yorkers smiling at each other degenerated – and we regressed to our unfortunate mean, reverting once again to our usual game of international whack-a-mole – a strategy that history may show us was exactly the wrong one for the time.

I recall my thoughts at the time of the attacks – “What if this vicious act of mass murder was just another symptom of the misguided behavior of our countries and our cultures – simply more recent symptoms of what brought us slavery, the Holocaust, Hiroshima, Stalin, and the Vietnam War?” I decided upon an interesting thought experiment. I would view these behaviors as symptoms, then try to trace them to their deeper source through the application of careful logic and standard scientific procedure.

The Cosmic Healer

So I set out to perform an Einstein-like thought experiment, examining our world from the imagined point of view of an interplanetary physician – a cosmic do-gooder whose job it is to travel through time and space seeking out intelligent life forms that are struggling, like the human community on our own planet, to realize their potential.

There is no question, this patient is suffering physical illness and great anguish. And we are demonstrably headed towards ever more dysfunction and disease as an unavoidable consequence of the dominant ongoing behaviors, thoughts, passions and beliefs held by its most powerful inhabitants. Shouldn’t I want for my planet the same quality of intelligent, wise health care I insist on for my family: shouldn’t our situation to be examined with the honesty, objectivity, and care that would be employed by a physician treating a patient? So, I set out to perform a careful physical and psychological examination of the human culture on this planet. The result is my new book, Culture on the Couch; Seven Steps to Global Healing .

My explorations revealed convincing evidence that the same paradigm Mind-Body practitioners have found vital in producing healing (identity, balance, and integrity) at the individual level also turns out to facilitate healing at the collective level. If you have experienced real healing or a creative breakthrough in your own life, you understand the honesty, faith, and courage it takes. Indications are that we have reached the point at which we need to muster that same kin
d of confidence, commitment, and integrity in our collective behaviors.

The good news is that, collectively, we have all the wisdom and resources we need, and powerful tools for social networking are emerging right now. Accessing them and using them is a wise and powerful thing to do. Such social technologies as The World Café provide powerful methods for creating inviting space, exploring questions that matter, and connecting diverse people and perspectives. Through listening together for patterns and insights, collective knowledge emerges.

Until now, the system that has controlled the information that has been available to us; it has used anxiety and fear to push us to act in ways that are of much more benefit to the rulers, the wealthy, and the party in power, than to the people themselves. But this system actually belongs to us, and if we are willing to use the tools available to us we can begin to discover the incredible possibilities that open up when you begin to develop and evoke personal responsibility.

When we discover how to become truly responsible for our lives, we can choose how we really want to be and what kind of world we want to live in.